View Single Post
Old 06-01-2012, 09:33 PM   #82
peekay OP
Gnarly Adventurer
Joined: Mar 2010
Location: Toronto, ON
Oddometer: 116
The Baja Incident Part IV: The Rescue

Thanks friends for the concern.

After activating the SPOT's SOS function, I turn on my satellite phone.

I have a subscription to Global Rescue's medical & security evac plan. Technically, the plan only covers emergencies where I'm seriously injured, or threatened by things like civil unrest or terrorist attacks. It's understood should you ride solo into the Baja desert during the hottest month of the year (for fun), you're on your own.

Twitter feed

I call Global Rescue's operations center anyway. They try to assess if my situation qualifies as a medical emergency. I explain that if I can't get assistance, this will turn into a medical emergency soon enough. They agree to help.

They ask basic questions which reveal my unpreparedness. Like, my sat phone's number so they can call back if we get disconnected. I don't know it. I thought I had listed the number on my Global Rescue online account profile, but I guess I didn't.

I pull out my iPhone to find the number in its contact list, but it was of no use since the phone is overheating. Not a device you want to rely on in extreme conditions!

Overheating iPhone (image credit: Apple)

Somehow I manage to give them my sat phone number. I also told them my GPS coordinates -- luckily the Garmin is not overheating. They try to pull up my SPOT page from my profile but can't access it. We establish a protocol to connect every 30 minutes for updates.

I don't know if I'm stranded by the main dirt track or have accidentally veered to a side-path again. I ask if I should try to walk to a nearby settlement. They tell me to just stay put for now.

I haven't seen any other vehicles in the desert for hours, since the two amigos in the pickup truck this morning. They're long gone by now. And since everything near Puertecitos is closed, I don't expect to see anyone else to be passing by today.

I'm usually calm under pressure, but my heart is racing and I don't understand why. There's nothing else to do but wait. I'm really thirsty but I need to conserve the small amount of water I have left.

Small reserve water thermos

30 minutes pass by and my sat phone rings. The folks at Global Rescue tell me that they have no "assets" of their own nearby, but they've relayed my coordinates to the Mexican Navy (armada) who are preparing to launch a SAR team my way. They will contact me again when they confirm that the team is underway.

I'm waiting again. I'm zoning out as time passes by. I'm out of water now.

I have a headache but suddenly I hear the sound of an engine! I half expected a helicopter would show up but this wasn't it. I look from under the fly sheet, and coming down the hill towards me was a sand buggy!!!

I wave my arms and the sand buggy stopped. I can't believe my eyes -- the two kind Mexicans who helped me earlier are riding the sand buggy!!

"Agua???!", I plead with them for water.

"No, no tengo agua", the driver explains. No water. "Cerveza?", he offers instead.

For a fraction of a second I consider that drinking beer might make my condition worse, but any liquid will do right now, so cerveza it is!!

I feel too weak to even stand up so the two amigos drag me into their sand buggy and offer me a cold can of Tecate. They decide to take me to a nearby settlement.

We crowd into the sand buggy but wouldn't you know it -- the buggy wont start!! So now looks like all three of us are going to be stranded in the desert!! I can't believe what was happening.

One of the amigos thinks the problem is just the starter, so they're going to push the buggy a bit up the hill and then attempt to bump-start it downhill. They don't let me out of the buggy to help push; I was in no condition to do so anyway.

Pushing uphill for the downhill bumpstart

The bump start works and we ride to a "campo" several miles away. Their friend Miguel (?) lives there. I hope I have his name right.

Miguel speaks fluent English and knows exactly what to do.

At Miguel's place (he's on the right)

Miguel mixes a package of electrolytes in water and I drink it slowly while laying down on a sofa. "You're not the first to crash in Baja", he says. After awhile I feel better and Miguel cuts up a bit of melon for me to eat. I call Global Rescue to update them with my location and condition. They call off the Mexican Navy team.

The two amigos

They ask what I want to do, and I reply that returning to San Felipe is probably the best option for me. Turns out the two amigos live in San Felipe so this was perfect. They can load my bike on their pickup truck and we can head back to town.

We say goodbye to Miguel and headed back to the crash site. One of the amigos is going to ride my bike to where the pickup truck is.

Back at the crash site, the two amigos struggle to pick up the bike, even with all the luggage unloaded. The sand and the angle of the bike makes it a difficult extraction. "Too hard for one person! Too much!", exclaim one of them. I nod in agreement.

We head to the pickup truck. I watch as one of the amigos ride my bike in front of us. I can only cringe seeing it swerving all over the place. It is still uncontrollable in the sand. Thankfully we don't have too far to go, to another nearby camp.


Roberto (?) lives at the camp and offers me a drink. We load the bike on the pickup truck and return to San Felipe.

It is a big relief to be back in town. We eat dinner together and then I check into a motel.

Nothing some tape can't fix

My left wrist is sprained from the fall so I get some elastic tape to wrap it. I'm exhausted and have a little headache but otherwise feel fine. It could have been much much worse.

These two guys saved my bacon

I ask the two amigos to write down their names and contact info for me. Juan Pablo and Arnoldo, Attn: San Felipe Liquor Store, they saved my behind.

I had some cash on me but no one would accept my gratitude. "Not necessary!" Of course, I insisted.

(I'll try to write a post-mortem for the last part of this episode -- but I'm hoping to be on the road again tomorrow so please bear with me as I can't promise when!)

Thanks for reading.

Canada to Argentina (in progress)

peekay screwed with this post 06-01-2012 at 09:56 PM
peekay is offline   Reply With Quote